Friday, January 20, 2012

Atheism and Agnosticism in the African-American Community

For a while now, I have been hearing many reports about African-Americans coming out and declaring their atheism. To me, this is not new. There have been many figures that I have studied who were Black freethinkers who happened to be atheists. I can understand for many people that it can be a foreign concept or idea to grab a hold of, an African-American who is involved in irreligion. If you ask me, I think it's exciting but not because I would like to see people of color turn away from Christianity or their respective religions, but because it's courageous for anyone to declare their own thoughts and views. I'm sure you have heard that it is social suicide for a Black person to call themselves an atheist, mainly because we have roots in the church. Christianity is tied to the anti-slavery and Civil Rights Movements, and it is, unfortunately, gruesomely connected to the time of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the Middle Passage. But several are asking why. Why would anyone, especially a Black person, be an atheist?

Whether one wants to believe it or not, African-Americans have been a part of the religion war, stemming back to the voyages that took place centuries ago when descendants were kidnapped from their home continent of Africa and shipped to various countries all over the world. As years have gone by, we have grown deeper into independent thought. It is being seen as highly sinful by Black society for one of our own to call themselves an atheist. It is fact that we have had information of any sort given to us and have believed it and taken it as truth. We live in a nation where we have numerous freedoms. One of them is religious freedom, as stated in the U.S. Constitution, but some of us are blinded by that. This applies to agnosticism equally as atheism since both are under that same umbrella of irreligion.

I am an agnostic. My trajectory with religion has been insane. I grew up in a Baptist household and then when I was 16, I began researching other religions. After I came out, I became a Unitarian Universalist and joined the local Unitarian church (where I am still a member, but don't go very often). In October 2010, I became a Buddhist and around that time, I declared myself to be an agnostic atheist, emphasis on the agnostic side. How did I come to declare that? As I was coming into my own individuality, I realized that I had a lot of religious beliefs forced upon me. Everything had to be associated with God and with church, and after graduating high school, I decided that's not how I wanted to live my life. My childhood had Sunday School, Bible study, choir rehearsals, Brotherhood meetings, Vacation Bible School... I didn't want that to be a part of my life. I witnessed too many contradictions and hypocrisies in the church, suddenly didn't interpret the Bible in the ways that I was taught to, and I questioned many times. To this day, I read, I research, and I form my own opinions. In Christianity, it wasn't that for me. It was all about black and white areas. A lot about me is a foreign concept to my family.  When I left it, I decided to live my life my way.

I've run into people that have said "I don't understand how anyone doesn't believe in God". My response to that is: I don't understand how anyone doesn't like the color sea green or doesn't like to watch Turner Classic Movies on a Friday night. You cannot determine whether someone is good or bad based on their religious preference. You cannot force religion or any other philosophies or ideas on people and you must let others come into their own. Everyone has the freedom to choose the life they want to have, the freedom to be who they are, the freedom to embrace whatever ideas and thoughts. African-Americans as an overall race, we are still trying to learn that lesson. We know about "forcing on" all too well. It's something we inherited from oppressors and it repeats in our history. This should be a part of our mission of doing better.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Exploited King

Martin Luther King is one of my personal heroes and one of people I think of when I think of equality, peace, and nonviolence. 

I encountered something very out of the ordinary today. On one of the Facebook groups that I am a part of, someone posted a flyer for a black gay event for MLK Weekend, a event that is typical (just like a gay pride celebration). The flyer consisted of a picture of Dr. King with pictures of shirtless male models accompanying it on the side. It caused some uproar in the comments, but the person who posted it was trying his hardest to defend why he created such a promotional ad; he's somehow involved in club promotions and it was his event or club. I can't remember. What I do know is that I was in strong opposition.

It's blatantly disrespectful to create an event of sexual promiscuity, partying, all the things that are associated with the wild life in the LGBTQ community and do it in the name of Dr. King. That is my problem, tagging the name of a world famous human rights leader to a night that is obviously going to be about hyper-sexual dick. It is merely exploitation. I see so much wrong in having to have a pride-style celebration for all kinds of holidays and it doesn't just exist in the black gay community. What an absurd thing to do.

This event is going on as of right now. I don't know why. Maybe because us gays always have to celebrate on every major day of the calendar, but why does it have to be something sexually related? Why does it have to be about strippers, go-go dancers, and fucking until you drop? Don't get me wrong, I'm not against any of this, but for Martin Luther King, Jr.? No excuse. It's not respectful at all. Yes, he was a freedom fighter, but his death reminds of the sacrifices he made so that future generations could reap the benefits of a more progressive society. He fought for better employment and receiving a good education for African-Americans, not for us to embrace the fact that being a stripper with a GED is the very best that we can do. 

I believe that if Dr. King was alive, he would be for gay rights. His philosophies perfectly align with the LGBT agenda that we are striving for today. But because of these MLK weekend celebrations that many black gays are so fond of, I think that he would come back and do a speech just like the one in The Boondocks. He would be disappointed in us. King Day should be a day for us to give back to the community, get involved and do service. There are going to be many volunteer opportunities and King celebrations taking place. It is not a day off, but a day on. If you do not think about his universal dream of peace, freedom, and equality for all during the year, at least think about it on the day that we annually pay tribute to him. We, as the black gay community, need to obviously get it together. Seriously.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

i write...

For as long as I can remember, I've always had a pen in my hand. Since childhood, there has been a personal fascination of a utensil hitting the paper. It's safe to say that I treat the materials like I'm in a relationship. When I was a kid and I would visit the stores with my mom, the first section that I would always visit would be the aisle of the notebooks, loose leaf paper, etc. I had a collection of alphabet tablets that were broader than wide ruled sheets and memo pads that slide into my pocket. There was always something to write down. I think that I was born with a hippie identity. Instilled in me was a love of color, of art, of having some desire of freedom and I wanted to explore all of that through words. However, I was serious about writing professionally when I got to middle school when I was basically in the closet honing my writing talent. To be frank, I was not that good at first, but the good part about it is that I was writing constantly and consistently. I kept journals from the time I was a preteenager until the aftermath of Hurricane Gustav in 2008, which is when I began to translate my thoughts into the blogosphere. I didn't really want anyone to know that I was a writer unless it was on my own terms, but there was a moment where I almost stopped writing forever. My journal was actually taken from me in the 8th grade and I didn't know that it was gone until someone at the back of the class was reading it out loud to EVERYONE. It was very humiliating because they were my private thoughts (and back then I was struggling very hard with my sexual orientation. I didn't want that struggle to leak out at that time, but unfortunately it kind of did, but quickly went away). Because of the journal incident (that made me almost have a panic attack), I started having depression that I have/was never medicated or diagnosed for.

When high school came around, people always wanted to read my stuff and they thought that I was good. One person told me to perform in a school poetry slam and I refused because I had decided that I was a poet for the page, not for the stage. When I was 14, I won a couple of amateur poetry slams, but didn't consider myself a performer until I got to be a part of this amazing arts program starting in my sophomore year. The WordPlay Teen Writing Project is credited as my foundation and my coming into as an artist. I began to study under great local artists, one of them who is Chancelier "xero" Skidmore, who was ranked as the 3rd slam poet in the world in 2011. From there on, I took the title of "poet" and I take it serious. Because of this foundation, I have been able to extend to a theatre background, become a teaching artist, travel to a few spots in the country to perform, etc. 

I call myself an artist because I dabble in more than just the word. That hippie identity that I think that I was born with? Let's just say somewhere within the last three years, I became born-again with it. Along the way, I've learned some very important lessons about my craft. Things like:

In order to be writer, you have to be a reader.

It doesn't matter what you write. It's ok if you write bullshit. Create battle scars in your notebook. Just write. (I have a tattoo that says "write." on my upper arm in the gay pride colors as a reminder)

Just be you on stage.

I've taken these lessons into account and I reflect on them. Since the spring of 2010, I have been on a hiatus from the stage (in regards to to the spoken word scene) and right now, my focus is on the writing before I can focus on being on the mic. Once I see what material I have to work with, then I can work on taking it to the next level.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


this is the last week of the year and i am observing kwanzaa for the first time in years. i don't have a kinara of my own, but that doesn't stop me. today is the second day which celebrates kujichagulia, the principle of self-determination. i'm going to keep it brief because there are quite some things that i have to be working on, but i wanted to take a moment to blog this morning. :) this is a different observation of kwanzaa for me, not because it's the minus of the kinara, but because i see things differently now. the last time that i had anything to do with kwanzaa was during my preteen years, when i was going to annual girl scout celebrations. everything is in a different lane now because i understand how meaningful it is, why each principle is inherent. yes, it is an african-american holiday, but anyone can celebrate it. it was originally created for african-americans to have an alternative in the holiday season, but when you think about the principles, these can be applied to anyone regardless of any demographic or path in life.

Monday, December 19, 2011

2011 celebrity of the year: janet jackson

everyone claims to be the biggest fan of whatever artist that they are into and everyone has that one artist where they get a constant chunk of inspiration and they hold high regard for. that artist for me is janet jackson, and in 2011, she made me very proud to be a fan of hers, although i am mad as well, which i will explain here. but here are the points of why she is my celebrity of the year.

1. she embarked on her sixth concert tour, number ones: up close and personal, which is in support of her greatest hits album that she released in 2009. the performances that were a part of this series of concerts received predominately positive reviews from critics and was a 10-month international trek that covered north america, europe, australia, asia, and africa. janet showed to her fans that even at the age of 45, she has not lost her touch on stage, even though the concerts were stripped and scaled down to be more intimate, something that she wanted to do. here's my reason why i'm mad: because i didn't get to go. :'( most importantly, the tour was a chance for her to reconnect with fans, tour to places that she hadn't been to in a while, and to network with promoters and reestablish working relationships with them since her 2008 rock witchu tour was a disaster. this tour was also supposed to be 35 shows in 35 cities, representing her 35 number one hits. she went above and beyond that and performed 85 shows, including two tour extensions. so with all of that information, janet's tour was past successful. 

2. janet released her self-help memoir, true you, in february, which also became a #1 new york times bestseller. i bought my own copy and it has become one of my favorite books, and not because it was written by janet. ok, that's a reason. lol. but another reason is because it was honest and to the point. it made me realize that i am still creating the true me, and i had gotten through the book in 3 days! furthermore, it was a book that PROVED that she was not milking off her brother's death. the other jackson siblings that have written books have them centered around michael that makes it look like they are mooching off his legacy. janet didn't. the book solely focused on her and does mention michael, but only a little dose, which is how it should be.

3. she became the face of blackglama for a second consecutive year after a successful campaign last year. janet also partnered with the fashion company to launch her own mink collection, and one day i do plan to get a piece from it. lol. more power to her for having rhinoceros skin against the bloody organization peta (and pamela anderson... the whore). but seriously, animal rights activists have protested outside her concerts like she went out and slaughtered animals for their fur. they are lashing their anger at the wrong person and they really need to change up their activism. janet did not address them and i like how she didn't.

4. this spring, janet inked a film production deal with lionsgate to produce an independent feature film and i'm anticipating how that will turn out. people forget that she started out in the acting world and after her stellar performance in for colored girls, i believe it to be a good turn for her. the performance established her acting career, which she hasn't done much of. she being featured in the recent why did i get married films was mixed reception, but she is an actress, and i believe that she can be a phenomenal actress. it's all about finding the right company and the right director, just like when she struggled in music and eventually linked with jimmy jam and terry lewis. however, she should thank tyler perry and move on. he helped to get her back on screen and she should find a director who can really mold her. 

5. janet had more of a presence with philanthropic efforts this year, headlining fundraisers for different causes at a few of her tour stops, being one of the chairpersons for a couple of fundraising balls for the hiv/aids cause, and recognizing young people in the different cities on her tour. to top it off, she just became the spokesperson for nutrisystem (and is not being paid for this) and co-founded nutribank with nutrisystem founder joe redling. they are committing to donate $10 million in food contributions to world hunger by the end of 2012. me, i don't care if she is using the plan or not using it. you cannot criticize fighting world hunger.

janet jackson is one of the few iconic artists today who are considered to be free agents, meaning that she can do whatever she wants. the content on her last three albums explains that she hasn't been inspired musically and that's what happens when you are trapped in a contract that you don't want to be in and can't immediately get out of. i love that she is doing what makes her happy and that she doesn't feel the need to be competitive or to prove anything to the public. i also love the fact that she isn't trying to regain her prime, but enjoying her impact, legacy, and contributions to entertainment. there are plenty of people who are desiring new janet music and that it is time to put out an album. i agree... to some extent... but the longer i wait, it makes me more anticipated for what she is cooking up. in february, it will be four years since she released a studio album and i feel that whenever she releases new music that it will be worth the wait. at this point, she is doing music because she wants to, and when she does it, it will be amazing. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011


it's really hard for me to believe that this is the final month of 2011. it's really hard for me to believe that this is the first blog that i have done in a while. between taking this theology course that wraps up in 3 weeks, seeking volunteer work, and odd jobs, making plans for 2012, it's been hard for me to blog consistently and also create more poetry. i think i needed a break after all that writing that i composed for nanowrimo. that is still on a pause, by the way.  this weekend, however, will be one that i'm going to take for myself, as soon as i stop procrastinating on this homework that should have only taken two hours to do. smh. there are many things that i have to lay out in my head, all sorts of ideas cluttered in the notepad of my ipod touch and some still roaming around in my mind. if i have to put in def poetry on, i will. it would just be wonderful if i had a clear space, with my notebook, music, and wine... and those nestle tollhouse cookies i bought last night. lol. i have to have something sweet! there's also been a lot of writing in my wb group on facebook that i have not looked at. see what happens with life... and procrastination? it's in my sign. don't judge me. i'm known to do it. in fact, we are all known to do it. especially this friend of mine who shall remain nameless. too busy puffing on the blunt when he should be churning out novel number 2. lol. he's probably going to read this because i always post my stuff everywhere.

i can't really talk about subbing that much. my first day, i hated it and i did not return. that's all i'm going to say for now. something in our school system angers me, but that does not mean that i'm going to quit my contributions to it. there's still more on the agenda, but i will tell you that i understand the frustrations of teachers, and people have to understand why these teachers get arrested for "cruelty to a juvenile". there's only so much that we can take.

but right now, i leave you with this funny ass quote that was just said:

"I don't understand why people don't like fruitcake. Most people don't like

fruitcake... It don't taste too bad with hot chocolate." -my 70-year-old 



Thursday, December 1, 2011

my grammy picks

Record of the Year: Rolling in the Deep - Adele
Album of the Year: 21 - Adele
Song of the Year: Rolling in the Deep - Adele
Best New Artist: No one I like
Best Pop Solo Performance: Someone Like You - Adele
Best Pop Duo/Group Performance: Body and Soul - Tony Bennett and Amy Winehouse
Best Pop Vocal Album: 21 - Adele
Best Traditional Pop Album: Duets II - Tony Bennett and Various Artists
Best Rock Performance: Every Teardrop is a Waterfall - Coldplay
Best R&B Performance: Far Away - Marsha Ambrosius
Best Traditional R&B Performance: Good Man - Raphael Saadiq
Best R&B Song: Far Away - Marsha Ambrosius
Best R&B Album: Anything except F.A.M.E. by Chris Brown
Best Rap Performance: Otis (Jay-Z and Kanye) or The Show Goes On (Lupe Fiasco)
Best Rap/Sung Collaboration: All of the Lights - Kanye West
Best Rap Album: Watch the Throne, Lasers, or My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Best Reggae Album: Wild and Free - Ziggy Marley
Best World Music Album: Africa for Africa - Femi Kuti
Best Short Form Music Video: Rolling in the Deep - Adele

Friday, November 25, 2011

i am the 99 by michael ayers

Song by Michael Ayers, which I am helping to push be the theme song for the Occupy movement. Please listen and share with as many people as possible. You can listen and download for free at Soundcloud:
I Am The 99

occupy movement video

ever since the beginning of the occupy movement, i have called myself the 99%. this video of student activists during one of the demonstrations at uc davis is very powerful and emotional. after watching this, i am more of a believer in nonviolence and a believer in the human microphone.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

my music of 2011

it's that time of year again! time to recap all of my favorites in music (even some of the stuff i thought was horrible), and also the revelation of my album of the year (which most of you already know). here it goes. my album of the year goes to:

adele - 21
i have played this album a lot! adele topped her success from her last album, 19, with a diverse mix of musical influences from american country and folk and alternative. it's very cohesive and i consider it to be another breakthrough in the british invasion. i will be very mad if this album does not win album of the year at the grammys. it is the most deserving because it has had a huge impact critically and commerically. if you follow me on facebook and twitter, you notice that i root for this woman and her music a lot! i want her to stop smoking so that her voice can have longevity!

the others that made my list are:

bjork - biophilia
a wonderful experimental and avant-garde trek!

coldplay - mylo xyloto
one of my favorite alternative rock bands hit the nail again.

femi kuti - africa for africa
this afro-beat legend had me jammin'!

fitz and the tantrums - pickin' up the pieces
unique modern soul music!

jay-z & kanye west - watch the throne
this was a great collaboration of two hip-hop greats.

jill scott - the light of the sun
jilly from philly came back hard!

justice - audio, video, disco
mostly instrumental, but i love it!

Greyscale image of a bike against a black background. The bike has a blond woman's head at its front, whose right hand stretches out to the front tires of the bike. The words "Born This Way" is embossed above the image.
lady gaga - born this way
this was monumental for gaga, a very socially conscious and musically diverse set.

lenny kravitz - black and white america
lenny had one of the best rock albums of the year and it's a very happy themed disc! i <3 him! hey baby daddy!

liza minnelli - confessions
y'all don't know a damn thing about this woman! pop standards, baby!

marsha ambrosius - late nights & early mornings
raw r&b. she's riding a new wave of fresh creativity since she was a part of floetry.

mary j. blige - my life ii: the journey continues (act i)
besides an iffy duet with beyonce and appearances by drake and rick ross, the album still makes a mark.

meshell ndegeocello - weather
another heap of gumbo from this chameleon. why hasn't she won a grammy??

miguel - all i want is you
miguel is the musical godson of prince. and he's beautiful. he debuted strongly and i would have many quickies with him!

rupaul - glamazon
rupaul always does it with the heavy dance music. my gay genes were happy!

saul williams - volcanic sunlight
one of my favorite spoken word artists released something new in music and it's very indie! :)

seal - soul 2
seal is amazing at covers. good thing i have this album and it's prequel side by side in my ipod!

ziggy marley - wild and free
another great addition to my hippie travels. he is a beam of light of his father's memory.

some of my favorite songs of the year:

maroon 5 - moves like jagger
lmfao - party rock anthem
jennifer lopez - on the floor
rihanna - s&m & we found love
britney spears - till the world ends
beyonce - end of time

now... these are the albums that i want to acknowledge that did not sit well with me this year, and out of all the crappy mainstream music that is being played on the radio, i think these two albums are not of good quality (and these are the two that i kept skipping songs with)

beyonce and rihanna are two of the headlining artists of today's music industry and i was not fond of their releases. both actually had only one song that i liked from each. i'm probably going to get heat from both beyonce and rihanna stans, but i really don't care because i know what my ear hears and if i don't like it, i don't like it. simple as that. both of them work too hard and i hear so much catchiness in these works, and they sound like they were rushed. both beyonce and rihanna need to take a break, a real break. beyonce is overrated and overexposed and this is rihanna's 6th album in 6 years. i have a pint of respect for both of them, but i do admire that beyonce defended her work and didn't want to change anything about it when it leaked. i would never tell another artist that they need to change something on their album when it has already been put out in the public, since i am another artist. i admire that rihanna knows how to reinvent herself. not too many current artists do that. however, these works are art and art is up to interpretation. i spent so much energy on this part of the blog because i have an intelligent argument when it comes to music.

this is MY 2011 in music.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

verdict for conrad murray

in the living room yesterday, i watched as the verdict was read in the conrad murray trial in the death of michael jackson, and i applauded the jury's decision. guilty for manslaughter. finally, an end to this chapter of 2 years and 4 months.

i felt the charge was appropriate and i am looking forward to the sentencing on november 29. however, dr. murray didn't act alone in this whole tragedy. i don't think that he did this with malice or evil, but he messed up and this is something that he was not supposed to do as a medical professional. you do not administer painkillers or prescription drugs to someone who  is an addicted to them, no matter how much they beg for it. wrong is wrong, and that is what he did.

there are others who are involved in this, even some people who were in the making of the 'this is it' tour that mj was set to be on. fact: there are no winners here. dr. murray will be serving a prison term and the king of pop remains dead. a justice has been done, but there is nothing to party about really. i have given my applause on the verdict and left it alone. 

who is really responsible? anonymous persons who probably feel some guilt right now, dr. murray, and michael jackson himself. here's why.

don't get me wrong. i am a huge mj fan, always have been and always will, but it is not an illusion that he had a problem. it is fact that he was addicted to painkillers and prescription drugs for over 20 years. he kept on pushing his limits to going bigger and bigger with his celebrity status and with trying to retain his king of pop title. his family attempted to intervene several times and were unsuccessful. even one of his nurses warned him that if he kept using the drugs, he would go to sleep and never wake up. he knew the risks. yes, he was the biggest music megastar on the planet,  but he was still a human being and he had problems. many of his fans are in denial about that, like he was perfect and didn't fuck up himself.

yes, michael jackson was a king, a music king, but he was still a human being.

so now, i hope that all of us can finally move on. let him take his eternal peace and let's listen to the wonderful music he left behind. i wonder how dr. murray is doing today. y'all, isn't that picture funny? i snapped it and as soon as it went click, he made that pose. priceless. :)

come on... you have to laugh at something in this whole matter. lol

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

politicks of my generation

it was predicted that our governor here in louisiana would be re-elected, but it really stuns me as to how many people in my age bracket are apathetic when it comes to their rights and exercising their freedoms.

if you don't vote, you don't have the right to complain. that is my belief. we need to get rid of this apathy, this not giving a fuck about what goes on in our world because a lot of the issues are centered around us, the young people.

how can you say you don't care? if you say you don't care, then you are saying that you don't care about having rights? you still live in the united states of america, whether you are the most patriotic citizen or you are sick of the operations of the government and what negative things society imposes. you don't have to be an activist, holding signs. you don't have to be an expert on political science. voting is the most important thing you can do to make sure that you defend the causes that you care about. it's the most popular way to have your voice heard. 

i'm disappointed in governor jindal's 67% victory and the change that i want to see in louisiana won't be coming soon. i do not think that jindal is the right person to execute these plans. i'm more disappointed that a lot of peers didn't go to the polls and i just have one thing to say. if things aren't working out and you start complaining, think about what your one vote would have done.

Friday, October 21, 2011

spirit day

last night, when I came home from an open mic, I was offended by a status of one of my Facebook friends. she was talking about bullying and said that it was not a good idea to wear purple to speak out against anti-gay bullying, that there should be a purple week and everyone should speak out against all bullying. what was said put me in a funky mood because it was an immediate shutdown of what the gay community is trying to do. this is how i am feeling.

1. I do not condone any kind of bullying. all bullying is wrong. but because i strongly advocate anti-gay bullying, that doesn't mean that its more important.

2. LGBT youth are killing themselves. It is an epidemic in this country. why should we not speak out? we have to get the message out to save lives. the numbers have been on the rise since September 2010. don't believe me? check the news.

3. purple, in the gay pride flag, means spirit. some people need to brush up on educating themselves before they open their mouths. yesterday we remembered the youth who committed suicide and celebrated their spirits. why can't we do that?

many of us are going to rock our purple for the cause. if you're against it, then that's something you should work on. saying that we shouldn't wear purple for the anti-gay bullying cause is like saying don't wear a pink ribbon for breast cancer, when there are other forms of cancer.

some need to learn and some need to unlearn.